A UK government decision on whether a third runway at Heathrow Airport should be approved has been delayed until at least the middle of 2016 to carry out further environmental impacts.
The government had been expected to formally respond to the Airports Commission, which it appointed to evaluate increasing aviation capacity in 2012, by the end of this year. The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, published its report in July 2015, recommending Heathrow should build a third runway. The government’s Airport Sub Committee, chaired by prime minister, David Cameron, met on the evening of Thursday 10 December to discuss the issue.
The decision has been put off again to further assess the environmental impact of a third runway though the government insists it does not oppose expansion and agrees there is a need for more runway capacity by 2030.
The government’s secretary of state for transport, Patrick McLoughlin says: “The case for aviation expansion is clear – but it’s vitally important we get the decision right so that it will benefit generations to come. We will undertake more work on environmental impacts, including air quality, noise and carbon.”
The department for transport says it will new develop measures to mitigate the impacts of expansion on local people and the environment. This will include compensation, maximising local economic opportunities through jobs and apprenticeships, and measures to tackle noise.
McLoughlin continues: “We must develop the best possible package of measures to mitigate the impacts on local people. We will continue work on all shortlisted locations, so that the timetable for more capacity set out by Sir Howard is met.”
Building a third runway is the preferred expansion option, though extending an existing runway at Heathrow was also considered, as was a second one at Gatwick Airport.